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Limoges, a city to discover!

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If you are tempted by a stay in Limoges, in the South-West of France, but apart from the famous porcelain, you don't really know what you could discover, here are the ten must-sees in Limoges, as well as two crunchy gourmet recommendations (as Cyril Lignac would say)! A weekend is ideal to take the time to discover this city where life is good...



  1. The eclectic style of the Limoges-Bénédictins train station

  2. The Verdurier Pavilion

  3. The Gothic Basilica of Saint-Michel-des-Lions

  4. The Halles centrales: the belly of Limoges

  5. The medieval district of the Butchery

  6. The Town Hall and its porcelain fountain... of Limoges

  7. The gothic cathedral of Saint-Etienne de Limoges

  8. The soothing garden of the Bishopric

  9. The bucolic banks of the Vienne river

  10. The fascinating Four des Casseaux Museum

  11. Two gourmet recommendations: the Madeleines Bébé and the Madeleines Bijou


1. The eclectic style of the Limoges-Bénédictins train station

If you decide to come by train to Limoges (about 3h30 by Intercités from Paris-Austerlitz station), you will inevitably pass by this Art Nouveau and Art Deco masterpiece that is the Limoges-Bénédictins station! The latter, inaugurated in 1929, is the symbol of the prosperity and development of the porcelain city during the inter-war period. Roger Gonthier was its architect. To say that it was far from being unanimously approved at its inauguration, judged too massive and already dated...

Its name "Limoges-Bénédictins" comes from the fact that on the actual site of the station, there used to be a leper colony next to the Benedictine monastery, which gave its name to the station.

When I saw it, my first thought was that it looked like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul with its 67-meter campanile and its high dome. Feel free to observe the dome and the stained glass windows from inside the station. Under the dome, you will see at each corner an allegorical sculpture representing one of the four provinces served by the Paris-Orléans railway company (Limousin, Brittany, Gascony and Touraine). Concerning Limousin, the woman carries as emblems a porcelain vase, ears of wheat, chestnuts and chestnut leaves.

It is by walking to the balconies of the Champ de Juillet (on the last picture), located just in front of the station and redeveloped by the same architect Roger Gonthier, that you will be able to take the most beautiful pictures of this monument, with the reflection in the water.

Finally, last information: the Limoges train station was honored in 2009 in the advertisement directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet for the Chanel perfume n°5, with Audrey Tautou. For the curious, click on the image below to see the video! When I told you that the Limoges train station had a little bit of Istanbul air... ;-)

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The Verdurier Pavilion has a particular history because, built in 1919, it was formerly a refrigerated pavilion that allowed the storage of frozen meat from Argentina, which was very popular after the First World War to alleviate the shortage. It was also used as a bus station. The architect of this Art Deco building is none other than, once again, Roger Gonthier! Today, this pavilion hosts temporary exhibitions.


3. The Gothic Basilica of Saint-Michel-des-Lions

This vast basilica, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, is remarkable for its two Gallo-Roman granite lions that protect it from the outside. Inside, the stained glass windows are exceptional. Before leaving, notice how the columns seem to bend under their weight ;-) Yes, yes, it's time to go!

For the record, this church became a basilica on February 2, 2023 by decision of Rome because there was then no basilica in the Limousin! This title is granted by the Pope himself and it is necessary, to obtain it, that the building contains for example the relics of a Saint, which is the case of Saint-Michel-des-Lions which shelters the relics of the first bishop of Limoges: Saint-Martial (3rd century).


4. The Halles centrales: the belly of Limoges

The Halles centrales of Limoges can be visited first from the outside, on the Place de la Motte where they are located. It is a beautiful example of 19th century architecture: glass windows, bricks and metal structure in one piece. Eiffel's disciples were responsible for its design. Take the time to observe its beautiful frieze of 328 porcelain tiles that evoke the products sold at Les Halles.

Inside, the place is very bright, full of life, you can do your market with various small local producers, have a drink, eat on large tables or taste some specialties of Limoges, here are some examples:

- The galetou: a rolled galette made of buckwheat flour, filled for example with rillette, it is eaten cold as an aperitif, cut into pieces.

- The meat and potato pâté.

- The flognarde: we speak about flognarde when it is a clafoutis filled with other fruits than cherries, for example with apples, pears or plums.

- The chestnut fondant.

- The doughnut of the Halles: soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

The Halles centrales are open Tuesday to Wednesday from 7am to 1pm and Thursday to Sunday from 7am to 3pm.


5. The medieval district of the Butchery

The Butchery district is certainly the most touristic district of Limoges, with its magnificent half-timbered buildings, as if frozen in time. It is the place where many butchers and tripe makers settled since the Middle Ages, hence its name. Indeed, with their reputation of vile and dirty men and also for reasons of hygiene, they were put away from the beautiful districts in order not to annoy the high society. Thus, in the Rue de la Boucherie, you can see the Maison Traditionnelle de la Boucherie, dating from the 13th century and housing an eco-museum reconstituting the life of a family of butchers in the 19th century.

Two magnificent squares are to be discovered in this district:

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- The Cour du Temple: this is a remarkable group of granite and half-timbered mansions with arcaded galleries. You can enjoy it while sitting at the tea room Le Consulat!

- The Place de la Barreyrrette: less known, but just as charming, this square located behind the butchers' houses was divided into pens by barriers (barreyrrettas) where the animals were parked before being slaughtered, until the construction of a municipal slaughterhouse at the beginning of the 19th century.

Another particularity to discover is the small Saint-Aurélien Chapel, built in the 15th century. It houses the relics of the patron saint of butchers and second bishop of Limoges: Saint-Aurélien. When you enter, you can have the feeling of a rococo style with a very rich interior testifying to the past prosperity of the guild of butchers of the city. Moreover, you will be surprised to discover a statue of the Infant Jesus tasting... a kidney!

Finally, the Butchery district is to be discovered or rediscovered during a gastronomic event taking place since 1973 every third Friday of October, the Frairie des Petits Ventres, which honors the tripe makers. Personally, I really want to go back there on this occasion ;-)


6. The Town Hall and its porcelain fountain... of Limoges

If you look at the Town Hall, you will immediately find a resemblance with the Town Hall of Paris. Indeed, the architect Charles-Alfred Leclerc was inspired by it. The Town Hall is located on the site of the ancient forum! In front of the City Hall, there is a porcelain fountain honoring the arts of fire.


7. The gothic cathedral of Saint-Etienne de Limoges

The construction of this imposing cathedral lasted six centuries: from the 13th to the 19th century. Inside, admire not only its stained glass windows and medieval paintings, but also its rood screen (a stone or wooden enclosure separating the nave from the liturgical choir), whose decoration is typical of the Renaissance and which is one of the few preserved in France.

Right next to the cathedral is the Museum of Fine Arts.


8. The soothing garden of the Bishopric

Directly after the Saint-Etienne cathedral, you will discover this terraced garden. When the sun comes out, you can almost feel the South with its trees. Don't hesitate to take a walk in the middle of its more than 3000 plants, then enjoy the panorama on the Vienne river, before going downstairs for a stroll on the banks of the Vienne river!


You can walk or cycle along a pleasant path along the Vienne river, and enjoy its two bridges: the Saint-Martial bridge and the Saint-Etienne bridge (entirely pedestrian), both dating from the 13th century. You can also walk peacefully to the Four des Casseaux.


10. The fascinating Four des Casseaux Museum

The visit of the Four des Casseaux Museum was for me the most beautiful discovery in Limoges. It allows you to understand the whole process of porcelain making and, as its name indicates, its firing secrets. It is one of the last five porcelain kilns in the city and you can even go inside, yes, yes! Visits are free or guided. I recommend a guided tour if possible. At the end, notice to the fans of dishes: a huge factory store is to be discovered.


11. Two gourmet recommendations: the Madeleines Bébé and the Madeleines Bijou

Bébé's artisanal madeleines are absolutely to be discovered during your visit to Limoges (and too bad if you have already eaten too much before!). They are fragrant, plump, soft and with a thick chocolate shell that crunches under the tooth. There are many flavors of sweet madeleines, but also salty! You can buy the madeleines in large or small versions. It is just too bad that they are packed in plastic bags. Finally, chocolates are also available. The store is located at 3 Rue Vigne de Fer, but home delivery is also possible.

It is the brand of the children's snack in the region! This company has been specializing in the production of madeleines for over 170 years. When you go to the factory store located at 2 Avenue de Locarno, don't be surprised if you see people stocking up! You'll find not only madeleines, but also filled cakes, traditional pastries and other pastry cookies. Finally, they also deliver at home.


=> I hope this article has helped you in the preparation of your stay in Limoges and, if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate, I'll be happy to get back to you!

Finally, if you are looking for a place to stay in Limoges, I refer you to my article dedicated to Gogaille, a new hotel-restaurant concept in France to recommend!


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